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Campaign shows promise of America.

Byline: Clive McFARLANE


They say to really know a person you have to walk in his shoes.

Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, can't claim he has walked in Hillary Clinton's shoes, but he was close enough to her throughout this grueling campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to learn a little about the woman so many people love and so many others love to hate.

He was there with her on the campaign in Iowa, where it all began, and in South Dakota, where many thought it had ended. He flew back with her to New York and was with her on the stage Tuesday night when she made it clear she was in no hurry to shut down her campaign.

He won't be there tomorrow, when she bows to the demand of party leaders and turns loose her almost 18 million supporters to do what most Democrats expect they will do - vote for the Democratic ticket in the national election.

"She will be magnanimous," Mr. McGovern predicted. "She will be very gracious, very dignified. She will call for her supporters to rally around Sen. Obama.

"The one thing about Hillary is that she is a classy human being. I have admired her spirit, her fight and resilience. I think her future is filled with many opportunities."

Mr. Obama's supporters might beg to differ.

Where was Mrs. Clinton's magnanimity on the night Mr. Obama became the party's presumptive nominee? they might ask. What is so classy about Mrs. Clinton insisting, on this historic night, that she was still the best candidate?

And what about those other slights, insinuating that her opponent ranked below her and Sen. John McCain on the leadership scale, and emphasizing that hard-working, white Americans were not voting for him.

Mr. McGovern brushed aside these misgivings as perceptions stoked by the passions of the moment rather than true reflections of Mrs. Clinton's soul.

"I have known the Clintons for a long time," he said.

"President Clinton did a lot of good for the country. He presided over a strong economy. He increased jobs, got rid of the deficit and paid down the debt. He was a champion for civil rights."

As a legislator, Mr. McGovern worked closely with Mrs. Clinton, particularly on early childhood development initiatives.

"Both are people who have committed to improving people's lives and I like them both," he said.

"They are not perfect, but who is?

"In campaigns, words get taken out of context."

Mr. McGovern spoke about the burden on Mrs. Clinton's shoulders as she struggled to bring her campaign to a close.

"If you were there with her in Iowa, to see women hold onto her and say, `Don't you dare give up, don't you dare quit,' to see people hold up their children in the air for her to touch, to see an elderly woman on a walker in South Dakota hold her hand and shake it, and tell her she remembered a time when women did not have the vote... It is inspirational to see how women have been moved by her campaign," he said.

Mr. McGovern recalled picking up his 6-year-old daughter, Molly, from school during the course of the campaign and listening to her friends gush over Mrs. Clinton's candidacy.

"That was a powerful moment for me," he said.

"Opportunities are opening for everyone, and that is what the promise of America is all about - everyone having the opportunity of being what he or she wants to be - and this campaign is a signal that this promise is becoming real.

"It has been an exciting campaign all around. Both Hillary and Barack have inspired millions of people, brought new people into the process. People are passionate and committed to both candidates.

"Sen. Obama has become the first African-American nominee of a major party, and we will be working hard to get him elected president.

"Sen. Clinton is the first woman to win a primary, and she has won many more.

"She won the popular votes. I believed, and still believe, she will be an incredible vice president."

Of course, that's Mr. Obama's call. But that's a battle for another day.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 6, 2008
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